Findings from 338 responses to a 30-item survey sent to 1,018 nursing home directors are reported in the article, "Nursing Home Executive Director's Perceptions of Oral Care in Long-Term Care Facilities," published by the journal Special Care Dentistry. This was one of the first surveys of long-term facility directors about the perceptions and value of oral health care in nursing homes.
Currently 1.6 million people reside in long-term care facilities. As baby boomers age that number should dramatically increase.
What sets baby boomers apart from their parents' generation is that they have grown old with their teeth due to healthier lifestyles, greater health awareness and education and fluoridated water.
"As this group begins to access senior living arrangements and eventually experience health decline, the impact of their frailty on oral health has the potential for an oral health epidemic," states Marsha Pyle, associate dean for academic affairs at the Case School of Dental Medicine and the study's lead author.
Pyle collaborated with T. Roma Jasinevicus, Case associate professor of dental medicine; Danny R. Sawyer, Case professor and chair of oral diagnosis and radiology; and Jason Madsen, a private practice dentist from West Richland, Wash.
The researchers recognize the complexities that nursing home residents and their staffs face in meeting all health needs, including dental care--which many times is left to the caregiver to provide for part or all of it.